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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found “not guilty” of all charges.


When Can a Mistrial Occur?


According to the United States Constitution, any person who faces criminal charges has a right to a trial by jury. This is one of the many inalienable rights people have as American citizens. A criminal conviction can only occur if a jury finds the defendant guilty and issues the verdict. If a jury is not present or if a trial ends before a jury can reach their decision, the case is considered a mistrial.

Mistrials can and do occur for a variety of reasons. The common element to a mistrial is that the defendant’s right to a fair trial has been somehow compromised. Mistrials commonly occur due to any of the following scenarios:

Improper conduct / biased conduct of a jury member

Jurors go through a long and fairly thorough screening process in order to ensure a fair trial. Occasionally, a juror with ulterior or less than impartial motives will slip through. If a juror is found to exhibit improper conduct that can jeopardize a defendant’s right to a fair trial, such as speaking about the case, the case can be determined as a mistrial. Moreover, if a juror is found to exhibit signs of bias or an ulterior motive, the case can be deemed a mistrial.

An indecisive (hung) jury

Occasionally, a jury will deliberate on whether or not the defendant is guilty. When the jury fails to reach a verdict, this is determined to be a mistrial.

Death of a key member

Should a key member working the trial die, the case can be determined a mistrial. This could be a juror, the defense attorney, a prosecutor, or the judge.

Trial errors

Trial errors could lead to a mistrial, such as inadmissible evidence or other fundamental errors with the presented case that cannot be easily addressed by a jury.

Every citizen has a right to a fair trial for criminal charges. When a citizen does not get a fair trial, it is important to know that they still have rights. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who could help. Contact the law offices of John W. Tumelty today to schedule your case consultation.

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Atlantic County Office

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South Jersey criminal defense lawyer John W. Tumelty is conveniently located in Atlantic City, NJ. He serves clients in Atlantic, Ocean, Gloucester and Cape May counties and the Jersey Shore, including: Absecon, Atlantic City, Avalon, Brigantine, Buena, Cape May, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Estell Manor, Folsom, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Linwood, Longport, Margate, Mullica Township, Northfield, Pleasantville, Port Republic, Somers Point, Ventnor,  and Waymouth.